Times Shifting

Creative Writing in Extraordinary Times

Moray Laing/@desertedlondon

We live in a time of great change. Until recently, no airplanes in the sky, nearly empty streets, faces behind windows looking out, people turning their heads away from each other when they meet. Every day extraordinary things are happening as many parts of our lives have been turned upside down. Doors have closed on many of the things we were used to, and curious new doors are opening. Covid 19 has begun a process of alteration that is seemingly open-ended.

Soon things will go back to ‘normal’ – or will they? How will our familiar ways of life have been altered? What will we remember about these times? What will we want to keep? What will we wish to/choose to forget?

The Indian writer and social activist Arundhati Roy describes what is happening to the world as a rupture. She asks if it might be possible to …walk through it lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. This is a time of great richness for writers who source their inspirations from the world around them.

Moray Laing/@desertedlondon

Although lockdown/quarantine/confinement means that we are limited in the places we can go and the people we can talk with in real life, we are not isolated. We connect with other people in virtual space.

In our shared imagination we can have access to the farthest corners of the web-connected world. The world becomes a place of collective dreaming.

Sharing visions

Times Shifting is a project that brings together young writers living in very different places to explore corners of the living history of our time. By observing, recording, noting, collecting, thinking and writing about what is currently happening in their changed and changing individual worlds, and then by sharing the results of all of this, we hope to create a collective and creative archive of this time. In future years perhaps it can be a resource to help understand what has been happening in these times. Using an exploration of creative writing, we allow young citizens to develop their creative and idiosyncratic take on their changing world.

Truth is stranger than fiction they say! Just look around the world and see how true this really is…..

Times Shifting begins as a unique, shared, and mentored archive of events happening now in ordinary lives across the world. A collective picture of the world affected by Covid-19 will be compiled by a team of writers, historians and thinkers between the ages of 15 and 24. This archive of living history will then become a source of dreaming about how the world of today might be seen in the future. Times Shifting will explore the writing of a work of Historical Fiction based on the sharing of living details of life during of this time when all our lives are changing. This programme of exploration honours the memory of the founding genius of Historical Fiction, Sir Walter Scott, in his desire to look into the details of history to draw out the learning for future years.

Moray Laing/@desertedlondon

To let our minds go questioning afar,

Not to fear what we don’t understand,

And make our own creations.

Judith Steel

Times Shifting is a project of the Imagining History Programme UK, under the umbrella of The Young Walter Scott Prize. It has been created by and will be guided by Alan Caig Wilson, (Director of YWSP/IHUK), Elizabeth Ferretti, (writer, journalist and Development Associate for IHUK) and Dr Dina Gusejnova, (Assistant Professor of International History at the London School of Economics and History Advisor for IHUK), and Matilda Wormwood (independent curator, podcaster and bookseller)

When do we hold our workshops

Times Shifting is an online workshop programme. It is based around workshops held on Zoom, with thinking and writing tasks to be completed in individual time.

Times Shifting 1&2 ran between 1 May and 2 July.

Times Shifting 3 is a four-day intensive hosted by our long-time partner organisation, the Young Norfolk Arts Festival. It runs between 3 and 6 July. Details of this programme can be found at http://youngnorfolkarts.org.uk/yna-festival-2020/

What to do next

If you are a current participant, have the password ready and head to the Participants pages . Any problems, email us – TimesShifting@outlook.com

If you would like to be part of Times Shifting in the future, email TimesShifting@outlook.com telling us a little about yourself and why you would like to join this unique project. We will let you know as soon as possible when the next programme is planned to begin.

Important things

  • If you are under 18, we will also need to make a connection with an adult supporter. 
  • This project is set up and run as a closed, mentored group.
  • We do not ask you to share any sensitive personal details.
  • We will not publish anything without your agreement, or the agreement of an adult supporter if you are under 18. Your name will not be attached to any published material – unless you give your written permission.
  • You can pull out at any time and we will be very grateful for the input you will have made.

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